Adult participation in education in Wales

Publication type

Conference Paper


BHPS-2009 Conference: the 2009 British Household Panel Survey Research Conference, 9-11 July 2009, Colchester, UK


Publication date

June 1, 2009


Beliefs about personal efficacy have been shown to be an important determinant of educational outcomes for children. In a similar way, the idea of personal agency is sometimes invoked as a way of understanding how some young people can successfully navigate their way into the labour market and avoid the development trajectories associated with an unfavourable socio-economic background. This paper looks at a different relationship between agency and education, and asks whether agency can explain participation in educational courses for adults aged 25 to 64. Governments increasingly aim to create societies where everyone is engaged in lifelong learning and is continually developing their competitive skills in a knowledge-based economy. Insights are offered into which individuals are responding to this call by government in the case of Wales. A derivation from BHPS data of adult participation in formal education within academic years is presented. Participation in formal education among adults aged 25 to 64 in Wales is examined in relation to socio-demographic factors. The development from BHPS variables of a scale to measure agency, understood as an individuals sense of control over their life, is presented. The relationship between agency and participation in education, controlling for socio-demographic factors, is examined. Agency is found to be positively related to likelihood of participation in formal education. The relationship is bi-directional, with participation in education being a significant predictor of agency.






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